70% of students only drink to fit in, says NUS survey

Almost half of the survey’s participants claimed that prior to starting university they had a perception that students spent most of their time getting drunk.

70% of students drink alcohol to fit in with their peers, according to findings released by the National Union of Students.

The statistics were collected from 2,215 students in higher education through a survey which, according to the NUS, “explores students’ behaviour towards, attitudes to, and perceptions of alcohol use.”

The survey found that while 20% of participants intentionally get drunk about once a week, 21% say they have never drunk or have stopped drinking.

Key findings also showed that 2% of the survey’s participants say they drink every day, with around a quarter drinking between two and three times a week.

In regards to the perception of drinking at university, 76% of the students participating in the survey believe there is an “expectation for students to drink to get drunk”. 79% participants agreed that drinking and getting drunk is part of university culture.

Almost half of the survey’s participants claimed that prior to starting university they perceived that students spent most of their time getting drunk.

The report also showed a poor awareness of and limited participation in responsible drinking activities and campaigns at universities, with 10% knowing about said programs and only 1% taking part.

In regards to non-drinking activities and events, half of the students surveyed believed that there is a sufficient number of such events at their universities. However, a quarter believed that there ought to be more. 

The authors of the report speculated that financial and academic pressures have reduced the number of student drinkers.

They said: “The National Union of Students believes the pressures now facing students financially, particularly in relation to doing well because they have accrued so much debt is also causing the shift in students’ drinking habits.”

NUS Vice President Eva Crossan Jory stated that although many students are “making active decisions” regarding their alcohol consumption, she remains concerned that excessive alcohol consumption is still considered to have such an important role in university life. 

She wrote: “…The reality for many is that high levels of personal debt and the pressure to do well means many are going out less and studying more.

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The cost of living crisis facing students now also means after bills and food it may not be possible for students to spend on other things such as nights out or drinks.”

She encouraged students’ unions to get involved with Alcohol Impact project to “ensure that all students are catered for” and to reduce high-risk behaviour.

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